Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou won’t read too much into Rangers’ midweek exertions and will plan to face the Ibrox side at their best in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
Rangers beat Braga in the Europa League quarter-final on Thursday but had to play extra time and face a quick turnaround before Sunday’s derby at Hampden, while Celtic have had all week to prepare.
Postecoglou dismissed any talk that fatigue might affect his opponents as the kind of dangerous thinking that can lead to complacency and said his preparations are for any team to be at their peak.
“If you fall into the trap of looking for some sort of advantage or some sort of weakness, then that’s where the pitfalls are,” the Australian said.
“We expect to play every opponent at their absolute best. We don’t think we are going to go out there on Sunday and because Rangers had a big game on Thursday night, that they are going to be something less than they can be.
“We will go out there preparing for them to be the best they can be as we have in every game against them, or any other opposition to be fair. That means we prepare ourselves to be the best we can be.
“They will obviously be pretty buoyed after their result and they could play their best game of the year against us on Sunday. If we are not ready for that, then we are going to pay a price.
“We will be ready for a strong opponent and that means we will go in there also prepared to play our best game of the year.”
Celtic and Postecoglou grew used to playing midweek and weekends particularly in the first half of the season and the manager appreciated the benefits of more space in the calendar to work on the training ground but he also felt that bringing in new recruits at the turn of the year had allowed for everyone to put more work in.
“There won’t be a coach or a manager or a player who doesn’t appreciate having time and training with your players,” he said. “Particularly when you’ve got a new group of players, the more you can emphasise our parts of the game, it’s definitely helpful.
“The first three-quarters of the season we had midweek games so that limits your ability to work on certain things.
“So we have tried to make maximum use of this last period when we haven’t had any midweek games. It doesn’t mean that we don’t work as hard. We are probably working harder than we normally do in training, specifically around our game.
“But also a big reason why we are in good form is we have got a real healthy squad.
“January was an important month for us, there is no doubt the four players we brought in have helped enormously in terms of being able to rotate players, keeping the intensity of training really high, keep the guys really competitive, the impact of subs, and not rushing back Dave Turnbull or Kyogo and other guys who have had injuries.
“I think they have been the key factors in terms of us playing our best football right now.”